Honoring a bountiful harvest dates at least to pagan times. The full moon closest to the autumn equinox signals a time for festivities: eating, merriment, time off from the labor of farming, and even romance continue as the special ingredients uniting those who worked on the harvest with those who are fortunate to be able to enjoy their efforts.
This year, the harvest moon, as it is called, is Sept. 19, the autumn equinox Sept. 22. Celebratory events abound.
Today local master gardeners gather at their demonstration garden (NID Business Center, 1036 W. Main St. in Grass Valley) from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. for the Bite Me tomato-tasting event. But this is about much more than tomatoes.
The annual event is fun and educational, introducing vegetables and fruits that do well in our area.
Because they have all been grown by local gardeners, it is a perfect opportunity to discover varieties that could do well in your own garden.
By voting for your favorite tomato, you may find plants of the particular cultivar sold at the 2014 spring plant sale. Seeds are saved from the most popular tomatoes.
Two workshops being offered at Bite Me include composting (11-noon) and edible landscaping (noon-1). Both should inspire participants for fall planting and planning next year’s garden.
More regional than local is the Heirloom Expo, now in its third year at the fairgrounds in Santa Rosa (Sonoma County).
This event, Sept. 10-12, gathers people from all corners of the world.
An amazing celebration of the harvest, the Expo is well-worth attending in spite of the distance from Nevada County.
Speakers address the essence of the Expo; historic agriculture, which includes heirloom edibles; seed saving; nutrition and culinary traditions.
Dr. Vandana Shiva probably travels the farthest, coming from India for the third year to share her commitment to healthy food, a movement she has been an integral part of in her native country.
Listening to her speak is calming and inspiring. The hall is usually packed for this event, with standing room only.
Other speakers will address GMO issues, teaching how to have a safe and healthy food supply. Professional chefs add to the blend, sharing knowledge and products mixed with enthusiasm.
The Heirloom Expo unites gardeners, farmers and consumers in a joyous celebration of the harvest.
From the tower of winter squash to the carefully identified apples, the range of agricultural products is astounding.
Special programs continue for all three days of the Expo (www.theheirloomexpo.com).
In fact, you must select which one you want to attend from a choice of three in each time slot.
The food court is unlike any you will see at most fairground events, with bountiful, healthy choices for every possible taste.
You may even find chocolate. I did share that romance is part of a harvest moon celebration.
Whether you are participating in a harvest moon celebration, making time to visit growers at a local farmers’ market or pausing to appreciate and preserve your own harvest, September is an abundant month. Celebrate!
Carolyn Singer has gardened organically in Nevada County since 1977. She is the author of the award-winning “The Seasoned Gardener, 5 decades of sustainable and practical garden wisdom” and two volumes of “Deer in My Garden” (deer-resistant plants), available locally. For information, visit www.carolynsingergardens.com.